Steel with heart

Outdoor Living

FRAGILITY TO SAFETY An artist’s impression of GOAL’s garden, entitled ‘A Chothú agus a Chosaint’ (‘To Nurture and Protect’), with John Hogan’s sculpture to the right.

Mayo blacksmith teams up with GOAL to create meaningful and moving Bloom garden

A Mayo blacksmith is teaming up with Irish humanitarian agency, GOAL, on its garden entry at the Bloom Festival, which is due to take place in the Phoenix Park in Dublin over the June Bank Holiday weekend, May 30 to June 3 2019.
Titled ‘A Chothú agus a Chosaint’ (‘To Nurture and Protect’), the GOAL garden’s theme is migration and displacement, charting the harrowing journey of the millions who are uprooted from their homes every year due to war, conflict or natural disaster. According to the UN, an estimated 68.5 million displaced men, women and children are currently displaced around the world, and 25.4 million of these are refugees.
The garden’s design is by Adrian Eggers of Living Designs Landscapes, while award-winning Mayo ironworker, John Hogan from Killala, has crafted the garden centrepiece, a ‘Tree of Life’, which marks the start of a migrant’s often arduous journey. According to Hogan the concept of a Tree of Life has been used in many different fields, including religion, science and mythology.
“The Celts believed that trees had powers and provided people with food and shelter. When a Celtic tribe cleared new lands for settlement, they always left one tree in the middle, known as the Crann Bethadh, or Tree of Life,” John explains.
“My Tree of Life represents different qualities, such as wisdom, strength, protection, beauty, bounty and redemption. The tree is associated with a creator because it provides protection, support, abundant fruit and thereby regeneration. I think it is an ideal fit for the GOAL garden and its theme of migration. I am delighted to be involved.”
The sculpture, created at John’s workshop in Killala, is forged and fabricated from solid stainless steel that has been heated and pressed into shape.
In the garden, it marks the start of the migrant’s journey, with water flowing from the tree to the ground, symbolising regeneration and life-giving powers. Coloured glass balls floating in the stream represent the fragility of the lives of the displaced as they move from devastation to a new future. And the migrants’ journey ends in a place of safety and opportunity, represented by four giant urns, reflecting GOAL’s four main work pillars: Emergency Response, Nutrition, Health and Livelihoods.
“GOAL is delighted to be featuring John Hogan’s unique sculpture in our Bloom garden this year and thank him for his involvement,” says GOAL CEO Siobhán Walsh. “We have a responsibility to put a spotlight on migrations issues. We have seen the harrowing images in the media of migrants and those displaced who have lost their homes, and whose lives have been put at risk as they try desperately to reach safety.
“GOAL is proud of the work it is doing, nurturing and protecting those supporting those displaced, and through our Bloom garden we are keen to highlight the issue and to inform visitors on one of the most serious human issues facing our world today.”
After completing his studies at the Irish School of Blacksmithing and his training under US Master Blacksmith Elmer Roush, UK blacksmith Henry Profret and Irish blacksmith Paul Devlin, John set up his own business in 2005. His extensive portfolio includes hand-forged traditional gates and metal railings, curved staircases, garden sculptures, award trophies and much more.
His work has been commissioned all over the country and overseas in the US and Australia. He is experienced in working with a number of different metals, including mild steel, stainless steel, wrought iron, copper and bronze.

John Hogan’s Tree of Life can be purchased after Bloom. He can be contacted at 0872669767 or